The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has promised to make public the manifestos of all political parties ahead of 2019 general election and appealed to media to provide a level- playing field for all political parties and encourage issue-based campaigns.
Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said when he paid a courtesy visit to the Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Mallam Yakubu Ibn-Mohammed, in Abuja.
The commission boss said, “As a body saddled with the responsibility of registering and regulating political parties, we would like equal access for all political parties in Nigeria. As far as the commission is concerned, all political parties are of equal standing with the commission. We will continue to encourage NTA to continue to provide a level-playing field for all political parties in Nigeria.”
He stressed that as opinion moulders, the media should focus on issue-based engagements with political parties and candidates rather than focus on personalities and platforms in order to enable citizens to make informed decisions.
The INEC chairman hinted that the commission would soon upload manifestoes of parties on its website to further assist the media in engaging parties on what they plan to offer Nigerians.
“The commission will very soon put up the manifestos of all political parties on our website so that you can have access to manifestos in engaging with the political parties and their candidates; ask them questions around what they want to offer the country rather than mundane issues.
“This we believe will also help convey the message of what distinguishes one political party from another, and also help us to focus more on issues rather than personalities,” he added.
Yakubu also spoke of revamping the National Inter-agency Committee on Voter Education and Publicity (NICVEP) ahead of the general elections.
He noted that the collaboration with the media in the past on voter’s education and publicity had greatly impacted on the success of elections and sought deeper collaboration.
“As we approach the 2019 general election, we also need to engage big time with the media so that we will all continue to be partners in the business of voter’s education and publicity. The commission is determined to activate what we call the NICVEP (National Inter-agency Committee on Vote Education and Publicity) which the NTA, other media organisations and professional media bodies are part of,” he said.
Meanwhile, INEC said it would in accordance with Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) procedures, commence the display of a list of citizens captured in the first quarter of 2018 of the exercise on March 26, 2018.
Yakubu said a five-day display exercise which would end on March 20 marks the end of the first quarter of the CVR exercise in 2018, while the second quarter resumes in April.
According to Yakubu, the display is aimed at giving citizens who registered from January 8, 2018, to March 23, 2018, the opportunity to cross-check their registration details for possible corrections.
“We hope that citizens will avail themselves the opportunity to help us look at the register and draw the attention of the commission to the presence of any ineligible persons so that we would continue to tidy up the register,” he said.
He said the second quarter of the CVR exercise for 2018 would commence on April 3, 2018.
He also stated that in conformity with its tradition of bringing the CVR exercise closer to citizens in states preparing for end-of-tenure governorship elections, INEC would devolve the CVR exercise in Ekiti and Osun States to the registration area from April 11 to 16.